Centura Brands:
Longtime customer, Lawrence Laing of Centura Brands says "I could send my work to be packaged anywhere. But here, not  only do I get the job done at a competitive price but I also have sense of satisfaction in giving back to the community by helping those most in need. Helping me package my goods, provide work, a salary, and most importantly, raises the self-esteem of the workers."

Montreal’s Hidden “Jem”
Independence and good business sense
By Joel Ceausu The Suburban December 4, 2013

Click here for original article

Today it’s a backpack filled with wipes, diapers and various balms for rashes and other things that ail babies. Tomorrow it may be aluminum siding, or mascara.

It doesn’t really matter what it is; what’s most important is the bottom line and at Montreal’s hidden gem of a factory workshop, that means jobs for its employees, profit for its clients. The JEM Workshop Inc., is a Snowdon-based atelier, where for more than half a century, adults from all backgrounds with special needs have found a place to be productive and earn a living, while providing a valuable and highly competitive service for Montreal businesses in all sectors, including food products, electronics, garments, hardware, cosmetics and medical supplies.

The 84 employees, aged 21-67, are paid by Emploi-Québec as the organization keeps them off welfare while  boosting their social skills, self-esteem and helping them reach their full potential while satisfying the business world’s profit motive, says Managing Director Danny Kay.

“Just about anything a company needs we can do here” he says, touring the clean and structured 21,000-square- foot facility on Mountain Sights near de la  Savane. The medley of laughter and conversation blend with the din of reversing tractor-trailers and scores of merchandiseladen pallets being unloaded.

Perfect product
Some of the jobs they do include shrink-wrapping, labelling and blister packaging. For example, a container full of small appliances shipped from China are mislabelled. “Is the customer going to send them back? Call the insurance company? Will they lose all that time ordering a new load? No way, you send them to us,”  says Kay. “We unpack, re-label, repack and out they go to your customers,” he says, gesturing to a shipping dock where the constant flow of 18-wheelers brings in more loads of clothing, cosmetics, household items and more.

The employees – some mentally challenged from birth with limited mobility, and some with post-graduate educations  and speaking multiple languages yet can’t function in a  normal work setting – are highly supervised and  very motivated in this sheltered workshop, which has earned the respect and business of many Montreal firms.  Despite the challenges they face, the employees turn out perfect product with rigid quality control in a clean, safe,
organized and highly positive work environment.

Whether its assembling a sample card for a home finishing product, folding cartons of small makeup displays or applying corrective decals to boatloads of dollar store items with glaring omissions on the packaging, the process is the same, says Kay. “We look at the product, the job, and break it down into the smallest single steps,” he explains. “We have a variety of skill sets here and we determine how many steps and who should perform them.” A cardboard mascara box for example, can require a couple of folds, a sticker and an insert, whereas a swatch ring can entail hole punching, colour coding and assembly. “We take it to the most minute level and build it up. But that’s not our customers’ concern,” he says, explaining why the workshop is so popular. “Because we are a non-profit  organization, we are just covering our basics to keep these people working so the price is always right.”

Plain Good Business
It’s that combination of impeccable, flexible service and highly competitive rates that make JEM a popular choice as sub-contractor for companies large and small, says the workshop’s sole sales rep Doreen Kerner. “We are far more than just a wonderful place that does good for a vulnerable group of people: We’re also a solid business  consideration.” Of course there is the pride, self-esteem and independence that comes with work, as many would live in complete isolation and dependence without this place. “But the truth is this is a great business story because our process and therefore prices are lower: We follow the same stringent regulations, meet and exceed all standards and yet are extremely flexible. The big difference is our motive: It’s not profit, our workers simply need the ability to earn.” Most companies now have a mission she says. “Everyone wants to ‘give back,’ and here we see them  put corporate citizenship money where their mouth is, helping the community, empowering individuals without handouts. No one feels bad for anyone here. It’s all just plain good business.”

Jewish General Hospital:
"The job was done quickly and efficiently, and I appreciated your patience in answering my many questions and helping me with the issues of logistics."

Companies  recently served: 

AMD Medicom Inc. Canadian Technical Tape Ltd. Château Manis Électronique Inc. Dollarama
Groupe Marcelle. Kaycan Ltd. Innovak D.I.Y. Products Inc. Karmin Industries Inc.
Suzy’s Inc. Wipeco Industries Inc.    
Industries recently served:      
Food products Electronics Medical supplies  
Cosmetics Garments Hardware  
Toys Housewares  

And many other industries
To schedule a personal tour of Montreal facilities, please contact us at 514.735.4217 or info@jemworkshop.org

Atelier JEM Workshop Inc.
Centre Leonard & Carol Berall
8400 Avenue Mountain Sights, Montreal, Quebec H4P 2B9
Tel: 514.735.4217 | Fax: 514.735.5015
Funded in-part by:
Federation CJAAvec la participation de Québec